“Le monde entier est un cactus
Il est impossible de s’assoir
Dans la vie, il y a qu’des cactus
Moi je me pique de le savoir
Aïe aïe aïe, ouille, aïe aïe aïe” – Jacques Dutronc, Les Cactus (1967)

Roughly translated the above passage from Jacques Dutronc’s 1967 hit, “Les Cactus” reads:

The whole world is a cactus

It’s impossible to sit down

In life, there are cacti

I prick myself to find out”

It’s an oddly appropriate song for how I feel about 2017.

While I have much to be thankful for, there seems to be much still left to do, and it’s not time to settle down and get too comfortable.


I’ve had wonderful clients throughout the year who have given me interesting projects to work on, and through whom I’ve been able to travel to New York, Songdoo (South Korea), LA, and Toronto. I’ve worked with a growing team of talented videographers, other photographers, and creative designers.  I have benefitted from being at a stage in my career when I am able to leverage a wide network of contacts to continue to do the work I enjoy doing and hopefully continue to contribute something positive to the world. As an independent freelance photographer, I am in a very privileged position and I am extremely grateful to my clients and supporters who have helped me get here. Thank you.

But I also recognize just how fortunate and lucky I have been and that much of what I have been able to achieve is due to circumstances I had nothing to do with: I was born into a large loving family, in a country that embraces liberalism and is truly, I believe, one of the best countries in the world to live in. I have had the support of friends, and family, and been exposed to other cultures, people and ideas through my education and my travels. I am fully cognizant of the fact that much of what I consider normal is the dream of people who – through no fault of their own – live under oppressive regimes, in countries torn by conflict and war, ravished by famine and subject to the myriad cruelties that arise when law and order are absent or corrupted.

I don’t really know what to make of it, or how to balance things out. One of my goals in 2018 will be to work towards giving back more and trying to contribute more towards the kind of world I want to live in, and want my child to grow up in.

The full lyrics for the song, “Les Cactus” by French Singer, Jacques Dutronc, are worth running through Google Translate for those not familiar with the French version.

“Le monde entier est un cactus
Il est impossible de s’assoir
Dans la vie, il y a qu’des cactus
Moi je me pique de le savoir
Aïe aïe aïe, ouille, aïe aïe aïe

Dans leurs coeurs, il y a des cactus
Dans leurs porte-feuilles, il y a des cactus
Sous leurs pieds, il y a des cactus
Dans leurs gilets, il y a des cactus
Aïe aïe aïe, ouille ouille ouille, aïe

Pour me défendre de leurs cactus
A mon tour j’ai mis des cactus
Dans mon lit, j’ai mis des cactus
Dans mon slip, j’ai mis des cactus
Aïe aïe aïe, ouille, aïe aïe aïe

Dans leurs sourires, il y a des cactus
Dans leurs ventres, il y a des cactus
Dans leurs bonjours, il y a des cactus
Dans leurs cactus, il y a des cactus
Aïe aïe aïe, ouille, aïe

I think as we wrap ourselves up in technology, on the inside we’re in a cocoon, but to those around us, we’re becoming more like cacti. We’re spending more time online than ever before, burying our faces in our phones and creating parallel, idealized versions of our life story in little curated snippets posted on Instagram that make everything look oh so wonderful. Much of it is fiction. And to the millions without access to the many beautiful glittering places and toys we in the rich world have, I can’t help but feel like it’s a slap in the face. There are a lot of people, young and old, who face much greater challenges in their daily life than dealing with a rapidly depleting iPhone battery.


My hope in writing this is merely that we take a few moments to consider how we can do something for other people that takes a bit of sting out of their day. Can we be a little more compassionate? Spend a little more time with someone who needs our help and a little less time on ourselves?


The world isn’t really a cactus. It’s a rich planet full of billions of people who all want the same things you and I want: to love and be loved, to be valued, and to do the work we want to do in life that provides for our needs and those we care for.

Can we do more in our individual lives to make things better for someone else?

Can we take the cacti out of our hearts and make things a little more comfortable for someone else, even if it means giving up a bit of comfort for ourselves?

I don’t think it’s too much to ask for in 2018.

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Julian Haber Photographer
Julian Haber is an events, corporate portraits and conference photographer based in Montreal. He is the author of a book on freelancing and runs a busy boutique agency of creative professionals in the fields of photography, videography and design. |